It’s not a new concept… seems I’ve heard it forever: “We’re attracted to traits we lack (or feel we lack.)”
To line them up, the men I’ve dated, married, and simply found attractive seem to have very little in common. The connecting thread is me, and the traits I’ve consistently or seasonally yearned for and admired. Fifteen+ years of this journey of attraction and relationships, and I think I’m finally learning what I really want. Recent reflections of each, taken together, remind me what I’ve been seeking all this time.
The major players and some of their prominent, desirable traits:
First love: The cocky, soulful writer/poet/storyteller/humorist.
First husband, college love: The sweetly singing musician/family man/charismatic leader.
Second chance: The faith-restoring, charming, humorous, world-renowned, accented pianist.
Second husband: The well-intentioned, charismatic, vibrant, established, fairytale dreams-come-true activist.
While recovering from this most recent adventure, I’m learning that more than anything, I want self actualization. I’m in a good place for it. I’m surrounded by true, loving, committed friends. I’m beamingly proud of how my fabulous daughters are growing and adjusting to life, living it vivaciously. But it’s time for me to step it up.
I was supposed to be somebody. Loads of potential. But I’ve given it all up, time and time again, for the man of the hour. A longing for love hasn’t been primary, rather, I’ve been seeking salvation from abdication of self, weakly trying to find my missing meaning in a man. Or trying to find the one worth losing myself to, as if such an erroneous concept/being exists. As if that could lead to fulfilled life.
How could any of these boys, try as they may, attracted to my potential as they may have been, how could any have been expected to love half a girl? I’ve been playing at life.
So, enlightenment. Eureka.
If I’ve so frequently been attracted to musical ability and performance success, it’s time for me to set aside laziness, pick up my guitar, and play it until I’m not so clunky. Smooth out my vocals. At a minimum, kick my ass in gear and get to an open mic night or two.
More importantly: I was an outspoken leader as a child and teen. I stood out, earned the highest grade in my college speech class. But I keep choking in my big grownup world, and there’s no reason for it. I’ve been attracted to those with polish, presence, and command at the microphone, partially because I know I’ve got it in me but I’ve been too shy, intimidated, and scared to own it. I’ve settled for dating or marrying leaders instead of becoming one.
What am I teaching my daughters? Even if they’ve been exposed to little of these choices and motivations, they are cognizant of more than I’m aware. I have only a few short years of their youth remaining to get my act together and show them how to be women. I may never model for them a healthy adult relationship, but I can show them how to be successful, happy adults, engaged in and contributing to the surrounding world. I can show them their Momma, walking in her own shoes, being the person she’s shied away from all these years.
I think I’m going to fall madly in love with: me.